Once upon a time I saw this blog as a digital baby book of sorts—a place to record memories and milestones of the bean children. But they grow too quickly, my bean girls. The milestones fly past. Before I knew it, my first toddler became an articulate six-year old, a beautiful girl who dresses herself in the morning, finds her own snack to pack for school; who lost two front teeth in one week, who can read to herself (for a long time I despaired over the reading issue), and who, impossibly, just graduated first grade. How did this happen?
And my other bean child, the Legume. I thought she was a baby. I want to see her as a baby. But it’s been a long time since she was a baby at all. Two weeks ago, she turned four. Yes, four. I carry her when I don’t need to. She wiggles in my arms, squirms away. There she is, running away. “Bye bye,” she flaps a hand at me as she runs off to her friends at daycare/preschool. Her eyes crease into half-moons when she smiles. She has peaches for cheeks; her arms and legs are still rounded and soft. But those legs and arms have lengthened and thinned; she dangles against me when I lift her, and I can’t deny that she’s growing.
“Legume doesn’t walk,” my husband observed. “She gallops.”
It’s true. She gallops. Or hops. Or skips. Or runs. Maybe a better word is galumph. She galumphs through the house. And clumsily knocks into walls, chairs, furniture. She seems clumsy, but then is very agile when it comes to scaling heights in search of candy and treats. She follows and worships her big sister when she is not squabbling with her. Her nickname (among many) is “Fire-pig.” My husband discovered this name when he looked up her Chinese horoscope and found that she is a pig with elements of fire. Somehow the name fits, and she delights in it. We told her daycare teachers, as she often refers to herself by this moniker; they were also delighted by the name, agreeing that it fits her spitfire personality. “The Fire-pig fights fires!” she proclaims. She and Bean-girl weave a complex mythology of the Superhero Fire-pig with laser eyes who fights bad guys. “Stay away from the stove!” I tell her, and she responds, “But mommy, the Fire-pig fights fires!” (yes, and stay away from this one).
She can eat a watermelon like nobody’s business. I’m talking an entire small watermelon, all by herself.
She is a tomboy who likes to play with trucks, cars, trains, space ships, and has a special fondness for fire engines. She wants to be a fire fighter when she grows up. And a scientist as well (just like mommy).
We despaired of her ever being toilet trained. We thought it might never happen. “I’ve yet to send a child off to kindergarten in diapers,” her lead daycare teacher told us. “There’s always a first time,” my husband said grimly, and the teacher had to nod in agreement.
But our stubborn stubborn child is coming around. When you are four, you have to use the potty, we told her. And now she seems to have finally agreed. I shouldn’t jinx it be writing this here, but I think just maybe we won’t be packing diapers in her kindergarten bag, after all.
Time goes too fast. Last week I noticed the lilacs by our front door blooming, giving off their evocative scent. Today the blooms are already gone. Our youngest daughter turned four, and my husband and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. For the first time in years, we went away for an entire weekend, just by ourselves. Focusing just on ourselves. My parents came up for the weekend to take care of both kids—a first for all of us. Lilacs were blooming in the lakeside resort town my husband and I visited; lilacs lined the walkway to our B&B. It was a pretty tourist town with art galleries, ice cream shops, and little to do after dark. We walked on the beach, window-shopped, and ate out. On Saturday evening we took in some community theatre. The play, These Shining Lives, was well-written, although the amateur cast was mostly stiff. (The lead actress, however, was wonderful, completely natural and affecting. She was a college theatre major, and the training and talent showed).
On Sunday morning we sat in the B&B’s lobby and read the newspaper front to back. The silence felt like a heavenly indulgence.
The weekend made my husband and I remember that we need to take time out to focus on just each other. The last time we got away for a weekend sans kids, it was for a wedding. Fun, but not really a weekend of alone time amidst the usual wedding whirl and socializing. This time it really was a weekend just for us. A little bubble of peace and quiet. Our bedroom suite was beautiful. And my husband, who does not normally express his feelings in words, expressed them in a card that made me cry.
Ten years. Four and ten. My newly four-year old daughter was born on the date that my husband and I married ten years ago. I can’t believe how the years have flown by.